China mandates coronavirus tests for key public workers leaving Wuhan

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Shanghai (Reuters) – China ordered on Saturday that anyone in Wuhan working in certain service-related jobs must take a coronavirus test if they want to leave the city.

The order comes after the central city, where the coronavirus emerged late last year, lifted a 70-day lockdown that all but ended the epidemic there.

People in Wuhan work in nursing, education, security and other sectors with high exposure to the public must take a nucleic acid test before leaving, the National Health Commission said in an order.

The government of Hubei province, of which Wuhan is capital, will pay for the tests, the commission said.

Since the city relaxed its lockdown restrictions people who arrived in there before Chinese New Year, when the virus was peaking in China, are allowed to go back to their homes.

People working in other sectors aiming to leave Wuhan are encouraged to take voluntary tests before going.

Within seven days of arrival at their destinations, people who can present test results showing they do not carry the virus, as well as a clean bill of health on a health app, can go back to work.

Everyone else will have to spend 14 days in quarantine before returning to work.

Authorities have worked with the China’s tech giants to devise a colour-based health code system, retrieved via mobile app, that uses geolocation data and self-reported information to indicate one’s health status.

Wuhan will speed up its efforts to investigate asymptomatic coronavirus cases and confirm the presence of antibodies in people, which might suggest immunity, the commission said.

Wuhan, which accounts for 60% of infections in China and 84% of the death toll as of Saturday, has been testing inhabitants aggressively throughout the virus’ breakout and many companies had already been asking workers from the city to undergo tests before resuming work.

Wuhan revised up its death toll from the coronavirus by 1,290 on Friday, taking the city’s toll to 3,869, because of incorrect reporting, delays and omissions, especially in the chaotic early stages of the outbreak, authorities said.

China national death toll is 4,632 from 82,719 cases.

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